A little wonder
AUSTRALIA has had a love-hate relationship with the WRX.
The upstart from Subaru took rally prowess and translated it into cult status, in no small part to its quick’n’easy driving attributes.
The styling has been in and out of favour, something that has not just afflicted the littlest Subaru on the market. Bags of grip, heaps of grunt and a relatively cheap purchase price hasn’t really changed much in the Rex – but the looks of the new car could put it back in favour.
Dwelling in the $40,000 ballpark means you can’t expect miracles on the equipment front. Bluetooth phone and audio link is a plus, but some might consider a five-speed manual (the only gearbox on offer unless you step up to the STI) a bit old hat.
There is a Bluetooth audio and USB input for the 10-speaker sound system as well.
There’s also climate control, an alarm, alloy pedals and selflevelling headlights.
But it’s not without some complaints: There are no standard auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers or exterior bootlid switch.
There’s a simple but effective four-wheel drive system, a five-speed manual, stability control and that’s about it.
It’s main rival — the Ralliart Lancer — offers only a doubleclutch six-speed automated manual.
Broader in the beam, flared guards, aggressive snout, muscular flanks and haunches testify to the qualities within.
The interior is comfortable and well laid out, with the driver getting the tachometer dead-ahead on the instrument panel and one-piece racing buckets.
The updated WRX boasts a five-star ANCAP crash rating , an all-wheel drive that offers great dy- namic ability, pretensioned and load-limiting front seatbelts, dual front, side and full-length curtain airbags, stability control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist.
Punch through the gears and it’s apparent the WRX has lost none of its pace.
Despite feeling a little busy at open road speeds, the lack of a sixth cog is not too hard to get over, as the flexible little turbo four produces ample poke.
There’s plenty of fun to be had almost regardless of surface. Even a quick squirt on the dirt shows off the easy demeanour afforded the car by the all-wheel drive.
A value-for-money machine that can complete mundane chores as well as more entertaining drives, the WRX outshines its far more expensive sibling on most fronts, the only drawback being the lack of an automatic, which could send customers heading for Mitsubishi, or stepping up to the more expensive STI auto.